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Stoic Resilience As The Guide To A Happy Life

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For years humanity has held on to the notion that life is merely a journey whose ultimate destination is death. On a lighter note, there is the infamous expression that goes ‘life is so brutal that no one gets out of it alive.’ Besides the guarantee of death, human life also comes with more baggage such as pain and suffering. Are human beings destined to suffer then die?

Those who subscribe to this notion are widely considered pessimists or fatalists. The brutal reality, nonetheless, is that we come into this world and eventually death is inevitable. Even with the bleak prognosis of human life, it is still possible to find happiness in a characteristically brutal world. Happiness is largely regarded as a state of mind going by the memoirs of ancient philosophers such as Aristotle. From another perspective, the ancient practice of stoicism provides a guide to a happy life amid all the suffering we continually experience. Therefore, stoic resilience is the guide to happiness in a largely chaotic world.

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It is important to note, from the outset, that pain and suffering are inevitable. Stoic philosophy is merely a guide for people to improve their lives and not a means of avoiding our problems. Stoic resilience, as a concept, must begin with the understanding that pain and suffering cannot be avoided; everybody must suffer, experience pain, and eventually die. With this understanding comes clarity. Everybody must learn how to cope with the challenges of life and manage the pain if they are looking to find happiness and tranquility.

One of the key concepts in philosophical stoicism is the notion of control. Certain things in life such as the eventuality of death are beyond human control. Others such as the quality of life you choose to live are firmly within our control. The pursuit of happiness begins with an understanding that we must learn to appreciate the things we cannot change and cope with that burden. Appreciation and tolerance are key concepts in stoic resilience. For instance, people should learn to appreciate other people’s opinions even if they do not necessarily see eye to eye. If you do not respect other people’s differences, you will always be depressed and such suffering can easily be avoided.

Philosophical stoicism also draws from the freedom of choice. As rational beings, people have the power to choose and determine their destiny. While it is not possible to change the basics of life such as averting sickness or avoiding death; it is possible to choose the manner in which we live our lives. For instance, one can choose the friends he keeps or make a decision to pursue higher education. These choices determine the quality of life that a person lives. Many people lack the willpower to make strong choices because of negative mindset. Some say that regardless of how happy we are death is inevitable and unpredictable. The underlying principle in stoic resilience is the understanding that we need to adjust our attitudes in order to find happiness.

Happiness comes from within and it must be cultivated through the proper mindset. If one decides to succumb to their condition by claiming that their fate is sealed, such a person is likely to struggle with unnecessary baggage that could otherwise be avoided. Ultimately, happiness is a state of mind and people must actively cultivate their attitude to find happiness in line with the principle of philosophical stoicism. The value of life has for long been debated in search of the question about what makes life gain value. Peace and tranquility can be achieved through numerous ways but each method has both its pros and cons. The school of thought that engages the concept of stoicism argues that through rationalism, a person can analyze their past and future in order to be able to gain an advantage. These experiences build a person’s character and help them develop into the best versions of themselves. A strong mind can enable a person to be able go through tough experiences and come out on top due to the lessons learnt from the past (Morris and Thomas).

It is important to note that human beings should learn from their past experiences and not regret them. These lessons create a notable impact in the lives of people which when fully understood and utilized, ensures growth and progress. These events that take place in human life give a sense of control that is applied in the future. An example such as a person attending their first ever job interview gives them the experience required to be able to handle themselves better in future job interviews that they attend. Utilization of past experiences help a person achieve their desired targets which result in a sense of tranquility in their lives. The events that take place in people’s lives do not bring any form of harm but rather the people’s perceptions of these events (Morris and Thomas). Stoics have advocated that human beings always try to control events that take place even those events that are beyond our control. This is a common trend with human beings even from past civilizations up to present times.

Stoics believe that rather than trying to control such events, human beings should look at the events rationally and pick the positive aspects of such events. Events that are beyond the scope of control of a human being should be left to take their course (Epictetus and Sharon). Such events may include the weather and time. Even if we try to do anything, these events must happen and human beings should continue with the activities they planned for and ensure they make the best out of them. Aurelius can be quoted saying that in order to achieve stoic resilience through its notions of control; human beings should focus only in the present (Jarrett).

Focusing on events that have happened holds a person back and slows down their progress in achieving growth and their specific desires. Looking at what is ahead of us ensures that past experiences do not cause anxiety in our daily lives. This enables a person to concentrate on their futures without being held back by past experiences that they cannot control or change. This build character and mental strengths that is not waivered by emotional imbalance. It is quite important to note that stoics do not advocate for the full elimination of thoughts of both the past and future. Perception of the past and future analytically and through rational thinking enables a person use such experiences for their personal advantages. Looking at the positive impact of an event ensures that unwarranted assumptions and meaningless conclusions do not interfere with the present.

Works cited:

  1. Epictetus, and Sharon Lebell. “Everything Happens for a Good Reason.” A Manual for Living (1994): 32. “See Things for What They Really Are.” A Manual for Living (1994): 14-14.
  2. Hays, Gregory. “Aurelius, Marcus, and Gregory Hays.” Hays, Gregory. Meditation. New York: Modern Library, 2002. 32.
  3. Irvine, William Braxton. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. Oxford: Oxford, UP, 2009.
  4. Lebell, Sharon. “Always Act Well the Part That Is Given to You.” A Manual for Living (1994): 31-32.
  5. Seneca, Lucius Annaeus, and Robin Campbell. “Letter LXXVIII.” Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae Morales Ad Lucilium.” Harmondsworth: Penguin (1969): 134.

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